Before monotheism, there was polytheism. Polytheists did not think of themselves as polytheists. They didn’t write books about polytheism. They merely wrote about many gods as if it was essentially “assumed knowledge.”
Sure, people preferred some gods over others. If you lived in Athens, Athena might be important to you. If you were a farmer, you might make sacrifices to Cybele . If you were a noble or ruler of some kind, you would look to the divine king Zeus. It was usually not a matter of asking oneself, “Which god or goddess is more powerful?” but rather, “Which god or goddess is most appropriate for me?” This is a concept known as henotheism, which is the preferential worship of one god while still acknowledging the presence – and power – of other gods.
Enter monotheism. We don’t know when the original Hebrew texts took on their current tone, but clearly at some point long ago the Jews decided to not only worship their god above all others, but also to demote all other gods to inferior status.
This practice got them into trouble from time to time. Israel was a hotbed of political problems when held by Jews, from the early conflicts resulting – twice – in the destruction of their most sacred temple, to their current inability to share and play nicely with goyum.
However, monotheism was contained for a long time. It was practiced by a fringe group for centuries before it went viral. With the adoption of Jewish theology in a framework that was compatible with any ethnic background, the idea of monotheism spread from port to port throughout the Mediterranean in the form of Christianity.
Christianity seems archaic and superstitious today, but it was second only to the Epicureans when it came to skepticism during the first millennia CE in Europe. In fact, Christianity was so successful as a form of skepticism, they left almost no trace of nearly any competing religion. Europe was dimmed by a Dark Age of ignorance and territorial disputes until their violence spilled over into the Middle East.
Initially possessed by an intent to conquer, Europe came away from the numerous crusades with little political gain and mountains of knowledge that their ancestors had burned as heretical. An interest in Classical philosophy, especially Plato and Aristotle, set the tone for scientific advancement that culminated in the Renaissance.
We are now in the final phases of Christianity. Thanks to Christian skepticism, there are very few of the deceptive magicians who prey on the gullible. Now, the logical conclusion is that the other gods lost all their influence once we stopped believing, so disbelief in The God™ will bring about the end for Christianity.
Christianity, and all monotheistic faiths, are merely incomplete forms of skeptical atheism. They recognize the sham implicit in praying to a god’s statue and expecting a more desirable outcome, unless it’s their God (statue or abstract).
One thing atheism has learned should be unlearned. Christianity grew to singular prominence not by virtue of their theological arguments, but by force. For centuries, Christianity was inseparable from European governance, and therefore was “guilty” of being the religion followed by many people who did wicked things in the name of their religion.
One thing atheists must not do is follow in these footsteps… again. It is wrong to force religion upon a person, but it is equally wrong to wrest it away. Not only is it no one’s place to police the minds of human beings, no good can come from forcibly censoring others. The religious must always be allowed to voice their opinions, and must never feel they need to hide their faith.
When governments attempt to tell people what to believe, people resist – even those who would otherwise agree. I for one would strongly oppose any measure to destroy churches or deport people of a particular faith (Scientologists don’t count as people… I mean, they’re “aliens,” or whatever, right?). Besides, if religion was “abolished,” what would we blog about?